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Richard McCullough selected as FSU’s president

Florida State’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted for Dr. Richard McCullough of Harvard as the school’s next president.

McCullough, Harvard Vice Provost for Research, was interviewed on Monday along with UNC executive Vice Chancellor and provost Robert Blouin and Tulane VP for Research Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte by the board. Following an interview process, the board held discussion and trustee Peter Collins quickly got the ball rolling, making a motion for McCullough.

The board discussed McCullough’s credentials as well as those of Blouin and Piedimonte. Dr. Eric Chicken, a trustee representing the faculty, stated he had heard widespread support for Blouin. A case for Piedimonte was that he was favored by students.

McCullough had been in his role at Harvard since 2012. Following the BOT vote, McCullough now must be approved by the Florida Board of Governors. If approved, McCullough would be FSU’s 16th president.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead Florida State University as its next president,” McCullough said in a statement released by FSU. “Public universities are amazing engines of social change and mobility, and FSU is leading the way in that effort. The foundation is set for FSU to take its next jump up, and I’m excited to be a part of the team that will take it to the next level.”

Among the comments in favor of McCullough from the BOT were those centered around the right “fit” for FSU. BOT member Bob Sasser, who chaired the search committee, noted McCullough’s background in entrepreneurship, research and science.

“He has a great vision, he’s motivated and passionate,” Sasser said.

McCullough, Blouin and Piedimonte were each asked about the role of athletics within the big picture of the university. Here is McCullough’s answer:

“I am incredibly excited about being part of the Florida State Seminole community. I’m a huge sports fan. I spent an hour this morning in bed on my phone reading about what’s going on with the defensive line recruits and the offensive line recruits. Because need to put more pressure on the quarterback this year and the O line needs to be shored up. We got the guy from Notre Dame and there’s another one that might be might be coming. 

“And following the women’s soccer team, the women’s softball team is doing awesome. The baseball team, they have some momentum. The tennis women’s tennis team. I’m all in already. I follow the basketball team in March Madness and it’s one of the most exciting parts of the job to be honest with you. … I would bring leadership to this like I would bring leadership to anything else. Working with the athletic director like you would work with the deans. I think you have to be involved, talking with the coaches like department heads. Really just making sure you’re following the grades of the students and making sure you know what programs are going on. Being involved in recruiting. I know President Thrasher has been really instrumental with the boosters and bringing people here, trying to get the football team to the bowl game this year, I guess, would be a good a good goal? Maybe national championship next year? I don’t know. I would be involved, very involved and very excited about being involved.

“One of the things I’d like to say is that student-athletes, these are usually natural born leaders. These are the people who become some of your most successful alumni on the other side. At Harvard, we look at this in admissions, we like a good, smart athlete. And they usually become you know, like CEO of Goldman Sachs and things like that, and then we get a nice gift out of them. … It’s exactly the type of students that you’re looking for. And so we want to really encourage that. It’s not exclusive, it’s part of the university. But Florida State has something that the places I’ve been don’t have, and that’s a pride in this university. You can’t buy that. I don’t care how much money you invest in that. You cannot create that. And that leads to number of applications, the applications go up, you keep telling your story, maybe you tell it a little louder. Don’t be so humble about all the great things that you’ve done. As those applications go up, those acceptance rates go down and guess what? Your rankings go up. So all of these things are all interconnected with one another.”

McCullough’s bio on Harvard’s site is listed here.